Culture / Design

Unit One Design: Private Sierramas Residence

Meticulously designed, beautifully detailed, and superbly realised, this award-winning residence has an effortless elegance.

May 02, 2016 | By Staff Writer

Unit One Design needs no introduction to architecture and design aficionados. Founded in 1996 by John Ding and Ken Wong, its body of work spanning private homes and boutique developments is distinguished by creativity, elegant ideas and crafted details. The raison d’etre of this architecture and design studio is to create spaces that leave a lasting impression on the people using or visiting them—a goal that drives it to ever greater heights, winning numerous local and international awards, among them the PAM (Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia) Award 2014 in Single Residential Category for this remarkable private residence in Sierramas.


Unit One’s work is always based on ideas that are rooted to context which translates into a unique solution for a specific site. This ensures that a building cannot be transferred to a different spot simply because it just wouldn’t work there. Blessed with a high vantage point overlooking the lake, the house was orientated to exploit the views attained from this direction. In response to the difficult site, the house is organized geometrically and conceived as a set of three concrete frames sitting in parallel succession from the lake. These concrete frames are used as a device to layer the different portions of the house and to cater to the needs of a growing family, the private spaces are hung from above as enclosed boxes that leave the public spaces totally open.


While Unit One is renowned for its understated palette, their deft manipulation of space, material and volume creates impactful architecture. To create an unforgettable first impression, a tall main door makes a dramatic statement at the entrance, and gives guests a sense of arrival. This is reinforced by the Juliet balcony beside it which also runs all the way through the house to address security concerns. The expansive living and dining area with its double-height volume is accentuated by a cluster of Tom Dixon Pipe Pendant light that adds a subtle sheen to the space. This sizeable living and dining area opens up to the pool and main deck to create a large entertainment area with an external link to the leisure areas below, while a monolithic counter top extends to the exterior, further reinforcing the idea of a seamless transition.

The spacious deck has room for relaxing and entertaining.

Privacy is often a concern in homes and demarcating spaces so that the need of the family who uses it are met were considered in the overall layout. Tucked in the back, the master suite has the complete privacy of a wing all to itself, while the children’s bedrooms and the owner’s private office are arranged at the front part of the house. The façade is clad with a layered timbre structure that doesn’t just allow natural light to filter in, but also functions to restrict solar gain and prying views. Shrewdly placed at the edge of the house, the swimming pool forms a backdrop for unrestricted views of the lake.


This story was first published in FORM.

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